Baidu has designed a medical chat bot
China's biggest search engine company Baidu has designed a medical chat bot using artificial intelligence.
The bot, known as Melody, is integrated to work seamlessly alongside the company's iOS and Android Baidu Doctor apps. The bot is available for use by Chinese patients and doctors; alongside artificial intelligence, it will use deep learning to gather patient information related to medical questions.
While Melody does not currently give medical advice, it presents information collected from the patient to doctors, who can subsequently offer treatment after the information has been validated.
Andrew Ng, Baidu's chief scientist, speaking to VentureBeat, said: "It's not our role to diagnose - it's the doctors' role to diagnose. We try to assist the doctors."
Melody’s medical knowledge is drawn from a range of different sources, including medical textbooks and health websites. Tis data enables the chat bot to ask the correct medical questions and collect appropriate information that doctors can utilise while making a diagnosis.
Baidu’s Melody also continuously improves its information gathering and medical knowledge as its AI has been programmed to learn from its interactions with patients.
Commenting on the global shortage of doctors, Ng said: "I don't know how else to solve this problem other than to use AI."
While Melody is currently only being used in China, institutions in Europe and the US are eyeing this development with interest – doubtless Western companies are looking to develop their own Melodies!
Given that the shortage of doctors across the world is unlikely to disappear overnight, AI chat bots could prove to be a fix for doctors looking to expedite the diagnostics and treatment process. If this technology truly catches on – and if investment enables further development - then chat bots could gain even more abilities.